A holiday food drive for the local organization Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE) is ongoing at The Residence at Otter Creek, a senior living community on Lodge Road Middlebury. The charity drive began on Oct. 23 and will continue through Dec. 31.
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As the homeless population in Middlebury has grown in recent months, a group of local human services providers, business people and public safety officials haves re-established the Middlebury Homeless Task Force. The group was originally created to combat homelessness in the area about four years ago, but had not been active until this month since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This fall marks the first year that the Lincoln School District is operating as an independent supervisory school district for students in kindergarten through sixth grade, overcoming the challenge of withdrawing from its prior district to become established independently.
A new women’s clothing store has recently opened in downtown Middlebury. Middleton, located at 66 Main Street, is co-owned by Elissa Kestner, owner and manager of Monelle Vermont — two boutique stores in Burlington and Shelburne — and Lisa Phelps, owner of Middlebury salon and spa Parlour.
Burlington citizens will vote on Nov. 8 on a proposed $165 million taxpayer bond to support the demolition of the old Burlington High School and Technical Center buildings and build a new school. Since the discovery that the old building was contaminated with Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), Burlington High School (BHS) students have been attending classes in a vacant Macy’s store. BHS is Burlington’s only public high school and serves around 1,000 students. In addition to the high school, Burlington Technical Center provides training for workforce development, specifically skills like aviation, design illustration, healthcare sciences and hospital workforces. All students in the Burlington school district attend BHS, and students in 10th and 11th grade can apply to the technical center.
The town of Ripton has decided to remain in the Addison Central School District (ACSD) after a vote at the end of September. After a January 2021 vote to withdraw followed by a year-and-a-half long struggle for the town to establish an independent school district, Ripton residents have now voted to remain in the district that also includes Bridport, Cornwall, Middlebury, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge.
The 19th annual TAM — Trail Around Middlebury — Trek was held this past Sunday, Sept. 18.
The Midd Summer Market launched on May 19, offering the town of Middlebury a place to find artisan goods, fresh produce and local vendors. The market is located at Triangle Park by the fountain, and will continue running until Oct. 6. The market ran every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. during the summer, and now closes at 6 p.m. due to earlier sunsets in the fall. Recently, the market has added live music starting at 5 p.m. at the gazebo on the green to its list of attractions.
Environmental studies students collaborate with Newfane farm for spring practicum: ES 0401 Class Group worked with SUSU CommUNITY Farm
For their project titled “Building for Belonging,” Molly Conover ’22, Masud Lewis ’22, Taylor Lovely ’22, Jaab Veskijkul ’22.5 and Galen von Wodtke ’22.5 worked together with SUSU CommUNITY Farm in Newfane, Vermont this spring to support the farm as it grew as well as create a guide to permits needed to build in Vermont.
As temperatures rise in Middlebury, students and locals alike can be seen spending time outside and enjoying the sun, as long walks, icy plunges and hikes become more common. Although one might equate warmer temperatures with ideal hiking conditions, that’s not quite the case, because spring in Vermont often means mud season.
The month of April marks the end of a standard sugarmaking season in Vermont — the weeks when Vermont’s maple syrup producers tap their trees, collect sap and process it for syrup.
Just as shifting Covid-19 policies have affected Middlebury College students, staff and faculty, they have also impacted visitors’ access to certain parts of the college. Recently, outside visitors, including families of students as well as local community members, have been allowed to attend sports games and performing arts events, and the Middlebury College Museum of Art will be open to all as of April 15. These changes create ample opportunities for members of the local community to participate further in college spaces.
Over time, and at an accelerated rate since the beginning of the pandemic, housing prices have generally climbed across the country, and Addison County, Vermont, and Monterey, California — the location of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS), and one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S. — are no exceptions. These increases in housing prices intimately affect staff members at both Middlebury campuses, impacting their daily lives, families and quality of life. Here in Addison County, many may have heard the refrain that retreat from cities in the Northeast during the early stages of the pandemic led to dramatic increases in housing demands and prices. Matthew Curran, Middlebury College’s director of business services, elaborated on this phenomenon. People moving to Addison County in March 2020 were often coming from more expensive cities and could afford to pay well over the asking price or to pay in cash. Now, almost two years later, many of these people have chosen to remain in Addison County.
Though Vermont is typically known for its dairy farms, a completely different type of farm can be found in Brandon, VT — Maple View Farm Alpacas (MVFA).
Over the past several months, anonymous poster-sized images have appeared across the town of Middlebury. There are two graphics, one of the character Mia Wallace from “Pulp Fiction” played by Uma Thurman, and one of two hands grabbing a bottle labeled with the number 40; some include the mysterious letters E M S W I D written along the bottom. In addition to Middlebury, the images have been seen in the town of Vergennes, as well as on Route 7 toward Burlington. The Campus has not received reports of any such images having been seen on campus.
Karen Duguay, executive director of Experience Middlebury, was honored with the Buster Brush Citizen of the Year Award at the annual Addison County Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony on Oct. 28 for her essential contributions to Neighbors, Together (NT), a community action group that supported local Middlebury businesses while the key stages of the Bridge & Rail Project inhibited the flow of traffic through downtown last year. Duguay was also recognized for her work as an administrator through the Better Middlebury Partnership (BMP).
Middlebury College is located in a beautiful autumnal environment. Amidst the peaks of the mountains and turning leaves, Midd students bustle through rolling hills to class, practice and meals, but on Halloween and the days leading up to the holiday, what can Middlebury students do to celebrate? From scary to sporty to beautiful, here are The Campus’ recommendations as we go into Halloweekend.
In October, as part of a wider movement among museums to address overlooked or unexamined historical narratives and decolonize their exhibits, the Henry Sheldon Museum will launch its monthly virtual lecture series titled “The Elephant in the Room.” The talks, which are funded by the grant-making body called the Vermont Humanities Council, will be delivered by a group of scholars and curators who are familiar with the untold stories behind the museum’s objects. The museum’s objective of bringing suppressed historical narratives to the surface is particularly personal because of the relatively egalitarian goals of its founder, Henry Sheldon. The year 2021 marks his 200th birthday, an event that has prompted reflection on the museum’s current goals. “Sheldon had an interesting position in terms of privilege and class inside museums: he was a collector in the 19th century … but he didn’t have the wealth of the Rockefellers or the Fricks,” Taylor Rossini ’20, a collections associate and grant writer at the museum who contributed to pitching and developing this series, said. To combat his “outsider” status and the financial constraints that he faced, Sheldon turned his attention to more quotidian artifacts. Rather than importing ceramics from Europe, for example, Sheldon would collect everything around him, including mundane things that others didn’t think were worth saving, like local newspapers or ticket stubs. Because of Henry Sheldon’s disposition, the museum he founded now has a nearly encyclopedic collection of Middlebury and the surrounding areas in the 19th century. “This year, we’ve been thinking about how our museum plays into this larger conversation about how museums are these elite cultures, these repositories of incredibly valuable objects, and how our museum doesn’t fit into that mold,” Rossini said. “That’s not something that’s been made very clear.” Still, despite the museum’s history of preserving artifacts of everyday life, it is still subject to the challenges of bias and prejudice that many museums are grappling with today. “The Elephant in the Room” is an attempt to push that acknowledgment of the gaps in the Sheldon’s collection further. The January talk, for example, will address representation in 19th-century photography. Photographs of people of color in the museum’s collection have previously been left unlabeled, without much investigation into the identities of the individuals depicted in them. Rossini acknowledged that this is a sign of Sheldon’s own prejudices. “As egalitarian as we like to make Henry out to be, he was not interested in the stories of non- white, non-Christian contemporaries of his,” Rossini said. “So, we do have big holes in our collection where we have objects that give us a touchstone to tell these stories, but we don’t have information surrounding them to craft these stories.” The main goal of “The Elephant in the Room” series will then be to address and acquire new approaches to understanding these objects that have gone uncontextualized, as the Sheldon works to decolonize its collections and push conversations on race, gender, class, intersectionality and equity forward. “We’re hoping that these talks will give us some ideas, inspiration and hopefully, some new approaches that we can apply to our collection,” Rossini said. The values at the forefront of the “Elephant in the Room” series are ideas growing in importance at museums across America. Museums are working to create meaningful content for the 21st century that serves the people who visit rather than the objects displayed. “I think the goal with museums and among museum professionals is to stray as far as we can from this idea of museums being the ivory tower on the hill,” Rossini said. Though this movement is spreading worldwide, its impact is also visible in another museum close to home. Works in the Middlebury College Museum of Art were recently reorganized to reflect thematic arrangement rather than region- or chronology-based design. Rossini wrote and pitched the grant for the Sheldon Museum series alongside Eva Garcelon-Hart, a research center archivist at the Sheldon and the originator of the series. “For the last few years many museums, archives and other cultural heritage institutions have been questioning their collecting and curatorial practices in response to social pressures that call and demand broader inclusion, diversity and equity,” Garcelon-Hart wrote in an email to The Campus. “When I was working on exhibits and programming to commemorate [Sheldon’s 200th birthday], I realized that it may be a perfect opportunity to reflect on our current practices to meet the needs and expectations of our increasingly diverse communities.” After the pandemic hit, all of the museum’s exhibits were adapted to online formats, including webpages featuring photographs and video content. Rossini acknowledged that the switch made it more difficult for the museum’s core audience — namely, older townspeople — to access museum content. Still, she remains optimistic about transitioning to offering some museum content online for the foreseeable future. “A challenge has always been to broaden our audience as much as possible, and moving online did help with that. Younger folks, younger families, who are more comfortable with virtual content made their way to us and have stuck with us now, either through visitation or becoming members, even as we’ve reopened,” Rossini said. As of July 2021, the museum has reopened for visitation, but because the series — as part of its design to involve as many people in the conversation as possible — convenes speakers from many different locations, the talks will all be held online. The first lecture in the series, “Living with Death,” is about how to create meaning in a time of loss. The lecture will be on Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m., and is open to all. It will be a conversation between the artist and writer Dario Robleto, and Assistant Professor of American Studies Ellery Foutch from the college. More information can be found at www.henrysheldonmusum.org/events.
Monument Farms Dairy has undergone years of change since becoming the college’s leading dairy provider in the 1950s. While this year was more tumultuous than most, the farm handled its challenges as it typically does: with a vigorous commitment to quality milk, family-style. Monument was started in the 1930s when Richard James began bottling milk in his basement to sell along a home delivery route. The farm has remained in family ownership ever since and is now owned and operated by the third and fourth generations of dairy farmers. Dan James is part of that fourth generation and leads sales and distribution at Monument. “My generation, the fourth generation, is heavily invested in things and are in their early 30s, and we have the mindset of not selling out to the big guys,” James said. This attitude has endured throughout years of growth at Monument, as their farm, plant and number of clients have grown. Monument Dairy includes both a farm and a processing plant, which allows the team to supervise all parts of the process. The processing plant is located on James Road, while the farm is a third of a mile away on Weybridge Road. Since Monument is a smaller farm compared to other dairy producers, growth tends to happen slowly, as they must take time to save up to make large renovations, such as buying larger holding tanks for milk or expanding their barn. In addition, any large increase in production must start from the ground up, as it requires growing more crops and raising more cows, a process that takes time. Jon Rooney has been the plant manager at Monument Farm since the 1980s and has seen his fair share of growth at the farm. “Our competitors, all they really need to do is order in another tank-load of milk, whereas we’ve got to grow the crops and grow the cows,” Rooney said. “[These top-to-bottom operations] force us to grow slowly, which is actually I think a benefit, because it would be really easy to take a bunch of customers and kind of go hog-wild, and all of a sudden you really quickly find your weak points,” James said. “We tier up slowly, and it seems to work.” Part of this growth has been aided by the farm’s relationship to the college, which began 65 years ago when Monument began selling milk to the college dining halls. According to Rooney, college students used to drink two to three times more milk than they do today. He attributes it to several changes that the dining hall has made, including the inclusion of several alternative milk options. The dining halls currently offer almond and oat milk along with dairy milk. In addition, Rooney cited changes to the size of glasses and the removal of trays from the dining halls as key factors that reduced milk consumption. “First off, the college stepped down to smaller glasses, because the bigger glasses that they had in the dining hall could also fit a 12 oz. beer really well, so they kept [disappearing],” Rooney said. According to Rooney, smaller glasses meant students would take less milk each time. “At the same time, they did away with the trays because they were getting used for sleds and stuff,” said Rooney. “All of sudden, you need one hand to carry your milk, and so it gets left behind.” Weathering the Pandemic: According to Rooney, the dairy industry easily “backs up,” meaning that changes in demand or supply can have repercussions throughout the whole system. According to Rooney and James, milk consumption initially decreased during Covid-19 as institutions like schools and restaurants closed temporarily, which caused several farmers, including Monument, to dump milk that they could not sell. Sales of milk then picked up as people began buying excess milk. Cross-country networks couldn’t keep up with the sudden demand for milk, so stores limited the quantity of products that each customer could purchase. “The logistics of it — they couldn’t get it to the places fast enough so stores were limiting their quantities so that they wouldn’t run out of stock,” James said. “Due to our situation, we could’ve increased our deliveries because we’re smaller scale.” The pandemic also caused milk prices to drop by around 40% overnight. To make up for lower milk prices, the USDA gave dairy farmers financial assistance, and farmers, including Monument, were able to receive assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program. Covid-19 also gave Monument Farms the chance to introduce an online portal allowing customers to buy products in advance. This interface replaced the previous system, which required customers to place orders in person on site for the next delivery. “People’s mindset about change is very hard to overcome,” James said, alluding to some hesitancy about the change. With everything already changing due to Covid-19, however, customers were more willing to make the switch. “Just the fact that everything was changing at the same time meant that it was a smooth introduction to that,” James said. Even though Covid-19 brought its fair share of hardship to Monument, Rooney found it comforting that milk is still valued. “I was actually kind of relieved to see that a lot more people than I thought would consider milk to be one the essentials — I mean, besides toilet paper,” Rooney said. Future of Dairy While the pandemic may have temporarily reaffirmed the demand for milk, the future of dairy still seems uncertain. Dairy has become a topic of concern in recent years, including for the Lake Champlain Citizen Advisory Committee and candidates for governor. Most of the discussions center the environmental impacts of dairy and the economic viability of the industry. “The ones who are vocal get elected into office, and all of sudden there’s a political viewpoint that everything is changing,” James said. “Vermont farmers who have been around forever just put their heads down and continue to work and aren’t given a voice.” A 2018 study found that the production of one glass of dairy milk creates almost three times as much greenhouse gas as a glass of plant-based milk. Most of this greenhouse gas is emitted in the form of methane, which is released by cows when they first digest their food and whenever manure is handled. Plant-based milk presents other environmental challenges. Pesticides used in the production of almond milk have proven to be harmful to bee colonies, for example, and the production of rice milk requires massive amounts of water and also releases methane into the air. Monument Farms has implemented some changes to address environmental concerns. The farm recycles the manure produced by cows by feeding it into an anaerobic digester, which then produces enough electricity to power the entire farm and processing plant. Digested manure is then sifted through a mechanical separator, which separates solids that can then be used for bedding or sold to the public. Rooney acknowledges that dairy farming can pose challenges to the environment but is optimistic about dairy’s ability to adapt to changing standards. “Every farmer we know is totally invested in their environmental impact and always adopting new techniques to reduce their impact or turn it into positive impacts,” Rooney said. “I think that dairy people appreciate that they’re under the microscope and need to adapt to new technologies.” While the environmental impacts of dairy are an important consideration, the most immediate concerns for dairy farms are dwindling dairy prices and reduced demand while costs remain largely fixed. Dairy prices have been on the decline since 2015 and were just starting to increase before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, which caused prices to plunge. According to the USDA forecast, however, prices are expected to increase slightly in 2021 due to the strong demand for dairy products abroad. “You can’t argue too much against [lower prices]. I mean, if that’s the value being placed on the product. You can’t really artificially create value.” Rooney said. He attributes expansion of larger and larger farms to dwindling dairy prices, as they have the capacity to absorb different shocks in the dairy industry. Despite these changes, Monument has remained committed to quality. “Because our name’s on every container, we have to take great pains to make sure everything’s done right every time,” Rooney said.
From the 'Covid supply guy' to line monitors at Proc: Staff and student workers keep Middlebury safe
Daniel Celik’s official title is custodial supervisor, but he recently took on the temporary position as the operations coordinator for the Covid Operations Team — joining a cohort of staff and student-workers taking on new responsibilities amid the pandemic. A typical week for Celik includes working at the testing center Mondays and Thursdays, communicating with students who need to move into isolation or quarantine (ISO/Q) housing on Tuesdays and Fridays and working on logistics each Wednesday. “The pandemic really is in control of the position as it is constantly adapting to the changes with current virus spread, state and federal mandates and how we as a campus act,” Celik said in an email to The Campus. Celik is typically the second person students speak to after the health center contacts them about moving into quarantine. He helps them work out the logistics of their move into isolation or quarantine housing, including setting up transportation, providing information about the move and what resources are available in their building, checking in with students via email and helping students figure out the logistics of their departure. “This may sound cliché, but I think of [students] as my own to look after, help and guide through this process,” Celik said. Affectionately, he’s also known as “the Covid supply guy,” because part of his job is procuring cleaning supplies for the whole campus. He took on this responsibility in June 2020 and kept the job as part of his new position. Celik is responsible for providing the hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, cleaning kit supplies and PPE seen all around campus. Megyn Pitner, a catering manager, also saw a change in her work amid the pandemic, now working as part of the Covid Response Team, which provides meals and other services for students in quarantine and isolation housing. Pitner said that she was glad to accept a larger role in Covid-19 safety this semester — and that a key part of the group’s success is the makeup of the team, which includes representatives from many of the departments that provide ground-level services. “In these times we do what needs to be done,” Pitner said in an email to The Campus. “We’ve worked hard to identify needs, and then the most appropriate people to take care of the task step up and make it happen.” Her work has taken her all over campus and included tasks such as dealing with scheduling emergencies, onboarding dining support and working in the dishroom. Pitner tracks the number of students in isolation and quarantine each day and coordinates delivery of meals with other members of the Covid Response Team. She also has coordinated the preparation and delivery of meals during the fall and spring arrival quarantines. “It really feels good to be part of the team that is so critical to the success of the college being a safe place for students and staff to be this semester,” Pitner said. “The great teamwork that has been required to make all of this happen has been inspiring and encouraging and helps me feel really good about working as hard as we all do.” Custodial Services have also played an integral role in the college’s Covid-19 response. Kerry McGown, a custodial supervisor, said staff members are now providing service 24/7 to reduce close contacts with other staff and students. Custodial staff on the Covid Response Team clean, disinfect and maintain spaces for quarantined and isolated students. “Things have changed a whole lot, but our ability to work as a team has remained the same,” McGown said. “I hope the students know how much we appreciate them being here — it was awfully quiet without them.” Liv Mulloy ’23 is a line monitor working primarily in Atwater, where she manages lines during meals for a couple hours every shift. Mulloy’s job includes directing students in line, limiting the number of people in the general service area and sanitizing tables to keep them clean. The three goals of the position are to instruct students to sanitize their hands before entering the dining hall, to stay six feet apart and to keep their masks on, according to Ariel Silver ’22, a line monitor working mostly in Proctor. He and Mulloy spoke about the challenges of following the rules — especially as the semester progresses and the prevalence of Covid-19 on campus appears low — but stressed how important it is to stay careful and safe. “One of the things I regret about the job is that it seems like a policing job, like you’re trying to be a disciplinarian, which is not something that I at all enjoy,” Silver said. “It doesn’t have to be that way. We were told in the training that it’s mostly about friendly reminders in case something risky is going on in terms of Covid protocol.” Mulloy and Silver both said the social aspect of the job and interacting with dining hall staff were highlights of their work. As a line monitor, Mulloy socializes with approximately 500 students who she sees each shift. Mulloy said she appreciates when students tell her about their days after she greets them. “If you socialize with students, then they’re more inclined to listen if you have to ask them to stay six feet apart,” Mulloy said. “It's easy to be vocal if you’re already super chatty with them.” “One of the best parts of the job is getting to know the people who work there and feed you,” Silver said. “I feel like so many of us take it for granted that there are people who work for very low pay who are feeding us."